For 115 years, the United States Coast Guard Yard has built, repaired and renovated ships in Baltimore, Maryland, for the U.S. Coast Guard. The history of the Coast Guard Yard heralds scores of success stories and recognizes the shipyard’s vital contributions as a centerpiece of Coast Guard naval engineering for over a century.
The Depot’s facilities were consistently improved upon during the decade of the teens. New construction included a boiler pump house, a foundry, boat, sheetmetal, electrical, paint, upholstery and blacksmith shops, new mess halls, barracks, garages, recreation building and storage structures. The engine school was housed in a shed along the west Depot boundary. When World War I broke out in 1917, the Coast Guard became part of the U.S. Navy and several Navy units were sent to the Depot for repairs and conversion.
During the 1920’s, production of boats, canvas work, and numerous other articles for the needs of the Service was stepped up. Extensive overhauls and repairs were performed on the then-modern vessels YAMACRAW, SENECA, SEMINOLE and many 100’, 125’ and 175’ patrol boats and tugs. The 500 personnel of the Depot included civilian employees along with enlisted personnel. The Depot had gained a nationwide reputation for the fine quality of its work. Its small boats were famed throughout the world, wherever life-saving stations were located or cutters patrolled the seas.
By the 1930’s, many of the original buildings and equipment at the Depot had become outdated. Funds were obtained through Congressional appropriations to modernize the plant. A new boat, gas engine and machine shops were constructed and equipped; a 40-ton marine engine railway was installed. With the transfer of the Lighthouse Service of the Department of Commerce to the Coast Guard in 1939, buoy construction became another major Depot function.
With the advent of World War II, the depot underwent extensive expansion to meet war demands. Improvements included a 3000-ton floating dry dock, two shipways and a 320’ by 60’ concrete pier with tower crane. The Depot, now comparable in size and functions to a medium-size Navy shipyard, was officially designated the U.S. Coast Guard Yard. The shipyard’s work involved repair of scores of surface vessels including submarines, buoy manufacturing, production of canvas work for the Coast Guard, and building over 300 small wooden boats annually. The new work era included the construction of the largest cutters ever built at the Yard – the 255’ cutters MENDOTA and PONTCHARTRAIN. The Yard employed 3100 civilian workers during World War II. Beside the assigned military complement, the Coast Guard’s war time Training Station (Boot Camp) added to the numbers of personnel at the Yard.
As the Yard reduced its workforce to fit the Service’s post-war needs, vessel overhaul, gun repair work, buoy construction and miscellaneous manufacturing made up much of the Yard’s workload. The era of the 50’s saw the construction of three hundred 40’ steel life saving patrol boats, the Coast Guard Lightships SAN FRANCISCO and AMBROSE and small craft like the 36’ 8” motor life boats. In February 1953, the first of the 95’ steel patrol boats was launched at the Yard. In total, fifty-eight 95 footers were built for the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy throughout the decade of the 50’s into the early 1960’s. In March, 1958, the Coast Guard Cutter AZALEA, a 100’ buoy tender, was launched at the Yard.
The Yard continued to prosper during the decade of
the 60’s. The first of fifty-three
cutters built at the Yard under the 82’ patrol boat program was launched
in February 1960. During the
The 1970’s engaged the Yard in a flurry of activity. The trades continued the manufacturing of the Coast Guard’s lighted buoys, a program that had begun at the Yard during the Second World War. In 1975, the Yard became the sole source for overhaul of the Coast Guard’s 5”38 caliber gun mount. In 1971, the Yard completed construction of a prototype 41’ utility boat that had an aluminum hull and fiberglass superstructure. The Yard built boat was adopted, and from 1973 through the early l980’s, the Yard constructed two-hundred twenty-seven 41’ search & rescue utility boats. The Yard also has proven record for the design of experimental maritime projects. The construction of the prototype Stable Semi-Submerged Platform, or SSP, was the highlight of the 1970’s. In 1974, the Yard laid the keel for a 160’ single unit construction tender, the CGC PAMLICO. Throughout the remaining decade, three more 160’ construction tenders were built at the Yard: the CGC HUDSON, CGC KENNEBEC and CGC SAGINAW. From the late 70’s into the early 1980’s, the YARD renovated sixteen 95’ patrol boats. Built at the Yard in the 1950’s, these cutters were in need of modernization or repair.
Entering the 1980’s, the Yard constructed a prototype oil skimmer used to clean up oil spills. The Zero Relative Velocity Skimmer, ZRV, represented the best available technology in the Coast Guard’s field of fast current pollution control research. The first of the new 270’ medium endurance cutters, the CGC BEAR, arrived at the Yard in 1983 to begin post construction electronics work, under the program title, 270’ retrofit. The Yard accomplished a retrofit on 12 additional 270’ cutters throughout the 80’s. Beginning in 1984, the Yard began the Service Life Extension Program (SLEP) for nine 180’ buoy tenders in the Coast Guard fleet, giving each an anticipated 20 additional years of service. In 1984, the Yard re-commissioned the first 210’ medium endurance cutter under the Coast Guard’s Major Maintenance Availability Program (MMA). The Cutters, ACTIVE, CONFIDENCE and RELIANCE received their upgrades during the 80’s decade. Eleven more vessels would undergo renovation throughout the 1990’s before the program came to a close. The Yard’s overhaul gave each MMA cutter an anticipated additional 15 years of service life. In 1985, the Yard completed a major renovation of a ferryboat for Coast Guard use at Governor’s Island, New York. The KULSHAN, a 30-year old vessel bought by the Coast Guard from the State of Washington’s ferry system, was renamed the GOVERNOR following renovation at the Yard. As the decade of the 80’s came to a close, the Coast Guard tasked the Yard with construction of six river barges for the Coast Guard use on the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers.
After completing an extensive, four-year repair project on the Coast Guard Barque EAGLE in the 1980’s, the majestic cutter returned to the Yard in 1995 and 1998 for repair availabilities. The Yard built 26 small aids-to-navigation workboats, the 49’ BUSLs from 1997 to 2000. The Yard also completed the 210’ Major Maintenance Availability Program in October, 1998, with the re-commissioning of the cutter DECISIVE. In all, 14 of the Coast Guard’s 210’ cutters underwent an 18-month, $21 million renovation project. The land-based ship handling facility replaced the Yard’s nearly 60-year-old dry dock in l997. The shiplift was environmentally friendly and offered lower maintenance cost. Another milestone in a successful quality journey, the Yard became the first organization in the United States government to achieve ISO 9001 certification in 1995. The Yard became the sole source for major repair of MK 75 weapons systems and worked on both Coast Guard and international weapons systems throughout the l990’s. The Yard expanded its market base in the mid 1990’s to include the overhaul of the Paxman engine, the main propulsion engine in the 110’ patrol boat. The Yard excelled in its capability to bring its expertise to the customer rather than the customer coming to the Yard for service. The Yard built a celebrated reputation for taking its skill “on-the-road” to the Coast Guard fleet world-wide.
In 1999, the Yard celebrated its Centennial, and a year later, saw the dawn of a new millennium and a renewed quest for continued quality service to the Coast Guard fleet. The year 2000 saw an increase in Other Government Agency work such as the renovation of floating causeways for the Defense Department. In 2000, the Yard became the first organization in the Coast Guard and the first shipyard in the U.S. to achieve ISO 14001, receive a second Hammer Award for government improvement initiatives, and its third Unit Commendation Award for fleet readiness. In 2001, the Yard completed the first “Over-the-Horizon Boat” prototype project accommodating the 270’ cutters with faster boat launching systems. In 2001, the Coast Guard Barque EAGLE came to the Yard for a repair availability and experienced its first lift on the land-based ship handling facility. In 2002, the Yard commemorated the first lift of a 378’ cutter, the CGC DALLAS, onto the shiplift and began the 110’ Hull Sustainment Project. That same year, Yard tradesmen renovated several Army and Marine Corp bridge erection boats that would later see action in the Operation Iraqi Freedom. In addition, the Yard manufactured shipping cradles that transported 110’ patrol boats to the Middle East. The ex-Navy steel floating dry-dock OAK RIDGE went into operation at the Yard in 2003, increasing the shipyard’s capability to service the fleet. The Yard initiated its Trades Training Program in 2004, introduced the Critical Chain Project Management Initiative, and received welcomed news at the dawn of 2005 that the Coast Guard would bring the Mission Effectiveness Project to the Yard, a renovation project of the 210’/270’ fleets. In 2006, the Yard received direction from the Coast Guard to expand the Mission Effectiveness Project to include upgrade of selected 110’ patrol boats, including an asset from the Coast Guard Pacific Area. The Yard accomplished numerous scheduled and emergency cutter availabilities, including the first repair for a Great Lakes' cutter in recent history and a short-notice "roadshow" to renew failed flight deck tie-downs on the CGC DALLAS. That year, the Yard embraced the LEAN business concept of cleaning, eliminating, and organizing a work area to improve production. The Yard graduated its first Trades Training Class in 2007. In September 2008, the Yard accomplished a high-profile road show in Alameda, California, making critical repairs on the newly commissioned Cutter BERTHOLF. In 2009, the Yard's Electro Group completed the 41' UTB Electrical Panel & Alarm Upgrade Project on one-hundred thirty-one 41' utility boats, a nationwide project spanning four years. The Yard opened the Coast Guard's first Landfill Gas Renewable Energy Center on Earth Day in April 2009. The Center utilized methane gas from a nearby City of Baltimore landfill and converted the gas into two forms of energy - electricity and steam - for use at the Yard.
The Yard continues modernization of selected 110', 210', and 270' cutters under the Mission Effectiveness Project. The Coast Guard celebrated the final 210' modernization under the Mission Effectiveness Project (MEP) at the Yard with completion of the Cutter STEADFAST in the fall of 2009. STEADFAST was the last of fourteen 210' cutters overhauled at the Yard under the MEP lifecycle sustainment. The Yard's second Trades Training Class graduated in 2009. The Yard team completed a remarkable emergency availability for the Barque EAGLE in the winter of 2010, despite back-to-back Baltimore blizzards that measured over 4 feet of accumulated snow, setting EAGLE to sea in a record of eight days! The Yard graduated its third Trades Training Class in January 2011. In 2011, the Yard delivered five overhauled 22' ice rescue airboats from the Coast Guard's Ninth District for use in search and rescue on the frozen waterways of the Great Lakes and Lake St. Claire, Michigan. In July 2012, the Cutter CHANDELEUR became the 17th and final 110' patrol boat to undergo modernization under the Mission Effectiveness Project. The Yard began repair availabilities of several cutters of the 87' patrol boat fleet that year and took the shipyard's expertise on the road to New London, Connecticut for a dock-side availability of the Barque EAGLE. The Yard accomplished critical emergency repairs in the fall of 2012 on two buoy tenders tasked with search & rescue & aids-to-navigation response during Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest Atlantic hurricane in U.S. history. The fourth Yard Trades Training Class graduated in 2013. The Yard welcomed the final 270' cutter for overhaul under the Mission Effectiveness Project (MEP) in the summer of 2013. In the summer of 2014, the Cutter MOHAWK will be the last 270' MEP cutter to be delivered, concluding the Mission Effectiveness Project with modernization of fourteen 210' cutters, seventeen 110' cutters, and thirteen 270' cutters over the last nine years at the Yard.
The Yard is proud to have maintained a tradition of maritime excellence that has spanned 115 years and is committed to build on its renowned reputation of quality “Service to the Coast Guard Fleet” well into the 21st century and beyond!